Columnist Calls Gagging Over Bill de Blasio’s Interracial Family ‘Conventional’

Richard Cohen has long faced charges that his Washington Post column is anti-black, but his latest piece is the smoking gun.

Richard Cohen; Bill de Blasio, wife Chirlane McCray, and children Dante and Chiara
Richard Cohen; Bill de Blasio, wife Chirlane McCray, and children Dante and Chiara Screenshot; Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In the end, it did not seem to matter whether Richard Cohen, the Washington Post columnist, was a victim of poor wording and poor editing. His past spoke more loudly.

Cohen, 72, has been a columnist at the Post since 1976, more than enough time to have built up a reservoir of comments viewed as anti-black. That overshadowed his protests that he is no racist and that his comments about interracial marriage have been willfully misinterpreted.

There are four, and only four, Richard Cohen columns,” Alex Pareene wrote Tuesday for Salon in an essay headlined, “Richard Cohen: Please fire me.”

“1. Boring conventional political column

“2. Inscrutable, unfunny joke column

“3. ‘I am scared of black people’ column

“4. ‘I am shocked and outraged that people called me racist/idiotic/humorless’ column.”

In a commentary Monday about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Cohen included this paragraph about the ideological perspective of conservative Republicans:

“Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.”